Not a typical “Dear Carrie” question – just a praise from my kids I want to share!

Dear Carrie

Not a typical “Dear Carrie” question – just a praise from my kids I want to share!

I am a homeschool mom of eight, and my children range in age from three-years old to seventeen years-old. I’ve used Heart of Dakota nearly a decade now. My three middle boys are 6 1/2 year-old, 7 1/2 year-old, and 9 year-old. We just started Bigger Hearts for His Glory this week. So far, they have these praise things to say about doing school.

9 year-old: “I really thought I would hate learning cursive. It looks so hard and boring. But this is really fun!! That must be why they call it ‘Cheerful Cursive’.”

7 1/2 year-old: “I love doing school this year! All these new books are really cool!”

This is our first year doing formal Grammar. I had a tough year last year due to a high risk pregnancy, so I skipped the grammar lessons that were written in Beyond. I was really worried about adding English. However, every day this week, when I pull out the English book, my children all have positive feedback and praise.

6 1/2 year-old: “I love English!” And “Yay! Time for English! We get to write a sentence!”

Also, my oldest recently asked why every kid he talked to hated history. He loves history! I said he might hate history too, if he was taught the same way those other kids were who aren’t using HOD. Thanks to Heart of Dakota for making him a huge history buff!!! Now, there’s a praise from me! I can’t wait to wake up to teach tomorrow.

Sincerely,

“Ms. Just a Praise from My Kids I Want to Share”

Dear “Ms. Just a Praise from My Kids I Want to Share,”

Your kiddos’ comments greatly blessed my heart today, and I am so glad to hear about your good start to the year. Just the encouragement I needed!

Blessings,
Carrie

When and where should I separate my children?

Dear Carrie

When and where should I separate my children?

I have a nearly 13 year-old daughter and a nearly 11 year-old son. I started them in Creation to Christ, and we are about to finish Resurrection to Reformation. My question is when and how do I separate them? My daughter will be in 8th grade this coming year, and my son will be in 6th grade. I could have them continue the next 2 guides together. Then, once we finish them, my daughter can easily move into the high school guides. However, where does that leave my son? He’d be too young for the high school guide. I wouldn’t have HOD material to cover that year. If I move him up with her, he’d graduate too young. Should I separate them now? I could move my daughter into Missions to Modern Marvels. That means she would miss all of the history and science in Revival and Revolution. What do you think?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with When and Where I Separate My Children”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with When and Where I Separate My Children,”

You could honestly separate or continue to combine. You really could go either way. Since you are on the verge of high school, but not actually there yet, one thing I would really use to make my decision to separate or combine for the upcoming year is how well you feel your older daughter is placed right now. Do you feel that she is well-placed and did well with RTR? Or, did you feel that she was done very quickly and waiting on her younger sibling a lot? If the placement felt right this past year, then I would be more inclined to keep your kiddos together for the upcoming year, and then reassess as your daughter is ready to enter high school. At that point, we could ponder again whether to move her forward to the first high school guide.

Or, if the reverse is true and you felt she literally flew through her school and was always needing more, often waiting on her younger sibling, then you could look at separating them and moving her to MTMM this year instead. Whatever you do, it will be very important for your older daughter to be doing Drawn into the Heart of Reading this coming year in preparation for high school level literature. It will also be important for her writing skills to be very strong and moving forward and for her grammar to be on track (especially if you are looking to bump her ahead). Last, it would be good if her math skills were also on track. Otherwise, if she is a bit behind in any of her 3 R’s, then moving her ahead in the other areas could quickly cause an overload. I just want to encourage you, either path could work. However, based on how she is doing now in RTR, one path should show itself to be better.

Blessings!

Carrie

How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

Dear Carrie

How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

All is going well with Heart of Dakota – off to a great start! However, I have some questions about how to move through an R & S English 4 lesson in a timely fashion. Do you do all of the oral review questions, the oral assignment questions, and the written assignment questions? Today, for example, we did the oral, but then the written was almost identical. It seemed like I was having my son do double the work. I’m also struggling on writing assignment days. They seem to take much longer, and I usually need two days for each of the writing assignments. I have my son write his story. Then, I correct it and go over it with him. Finally, I have him re-write it correctly. I know this is all taking way longer than it should. So, my question is, how do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion? Thanks in advance!

Sincerely,

Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly,”

We do the 5 oral questions at the beginning of each lesson, and then we do the entire lesson. However, we do most of the entire lesson orally. This means that we do the sections marked as “Written Exercises” orally too. I only choose one small section in each lesson to have my kiddos do in writing. To do the written exercises orally, I just have my kiddos say the answers instead of writing them. I often read the sentences aloud in the exercises, and then have my child quickly say the answers right after me. My reading parts aloud to them keeps their attention and keeps the lesson moving quickly. Before the lesson begins, however, I have my kiddos read the first part of the lesson to themselves. This way they are prepared for what is to come. This all helps us move through English more quickly!

We diagram sentences on the white board to move through diagramming more quickly.

We often diagram together on the white board, which helps us move more quickly through the lesson. I might just draw the diagram lines and have my kiddos point and say where the various words will go. This procedure has allowed us to keep Rod and Staff English very manageable. Even at the upper levels like English 6-8, we move very quickly through the lesson; we don’t exceed 30 to 40 minutes total on most days for both oral and written work. It is true though that review lessons and writing days take longer.

To move lessons along quickly if you are running behind, you could do the rest of the written work orally.

I do think another factor around English 4 is that students have not really cemented their English skills yet, so their answering doesn’t come as quickly. They are having to think harder to remember and English is not naturally a part of their skill-base yet. So, for some kiddos it may take longer at the English 4 and 5 level until they become more familiar with what is being asked of them. Don’t despair! If your lessons are running long, you could do evens or odds for awhile. However, in the long haul I’d try not to make skipping a practice. I would set a goal not to exceed 30 minutes at this stage. If you see you are coming close to that time and are not done for the day, omit any written work and just do it all orally. This is another technique I use when running behind. I want to encourage you, you will see such progress with these few tips!

Blessings,
Carrie

Pacing for No-Nonsense Algebra

Dear Carrie

What pacing would you suggest for No-Nonsense Algebra?

I am using No-Nonsense Algebra with my 8th grader. This is my first year homeschooling, and I was looking through the book. Carrie, have you used this with your child? Do we have the child do one section a day? I am hoping it will not be too hard for him. Any advice would be appreciated!!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help with Pacing on No-Nonsense Algebra”

Dear “Ms. Please Help with Pacing on No-Nonsense Algebra,”

Congratulations on beginning your homeschool journey with Heart of Dakota! No-Nonsense Algebra’s text is broken up into sections that you can just move through at a pace of one per day if desired. It is important to watch the video first and then do the lesson. My oldest son worked through this program for his 8th grade year when it was first out, and it worked well to set the foundation for algebra.

Like any math program, it may not suit all learners. However, in situations where students either need a first pass through algebra prior to high school, or for students who struggle with math and need a no-nonsense approach to getting through algebra, this text works well. Often with any math text, kiddos are taking more from the lessons than we think. Although, sometimes this doesn’t show up until later! For many kiddos, algebra can be frustrating on its first pass through. This is because maturity has much to do with a child’s ability to think and reason at the level required for algebra. Often, just growing a year or two older does as much for a child as the specific program being used.

With my oldest son, we did do VideoText Algebra after No-Nonsense Algebra, which is an option you could also consider. He finished No-Nonsense Algebra early and was able to begin VideoText during the end of his 8th grade year. For us, this worked well. With my second oldest son, we did Foerster’s Algebra, which is another option you could consider.

Blessings,
Carrie

Living in a Fifth Wheel and Homeschooling

Dear Carrie

I’ve already purchased our guides from Heart of Dakota. I was going to place my 7 year-old son in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory. Then, I was going to place my 5 1/2 year old daughter in Little Hearts for His Glory for kindergarten. We will continue living in a fifth wheel for the remainder of the year while building a home. We were hoping to be in a house by now, but we still aren’t. This past year, we¬† skipped or completely left out many things in Little Hearts due to space issues and other trials that come with living in an extremely small space. It would be so nice to be able to combine science, bible, read alouds, art, music and history. We could work separately on the three R’s at each child’s pace. What are my options considering we’re living in a fifth wheel?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with the Best Plan When Living in a Fifth Wheel”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with the Best Plan When Living in a Fifth Wheel,”

I can see how living in a fifth wheel temporarily while homeschooling is a special situation! In reading through your post, I was thinking that since you commented that lots of things were skipped this past year when your son did Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) that it may be possible for both him and your daughter to be combined in LHFHG for the left side of the plans. They could also do Storytime from the right side of LHFHG this coming year. If you already did all of the Burgess books from LHFHG, you could either reread them with both kiddos this year, making sure to do all of the activities in the LHFHG guide, or you could do the Storytime from Beyond Little Hearts.with both kiddos instead.

Since you already own the Beyond guide, you could just have your son do the right side of Beyond for the 3R’s (i.e. spelling, grammar, emerging readers, and math) and have your daughter do all of LHFHG. If you did this, you could potentially keep your older two kiddos together for history, Bible, science, devotions, poetry etc. through the years and just have them to do their own 3R’s (with your son borrowing his 3R’s from the guide above for awhile).

If you do decide to head back through LHFHG, I would try hard not to skip things if at all possible. So, if you have to substitute for supplies you may not have, try to substitute rather than skip the box. You can get really creative with the substitutions if need be, but I want to encourage you to try to get something out of each box each day even if you have to really improvise.

Blessings,
Carrie

Follow-Up from “Ms. Please Help Me with the Best Plan When Living in a Fifth Wheel”

I’m really liking the idea of doing LHFHG with both boys! I ran the idea by my husband, and he thought it was the way to go. We are so thankful for this idea as it simplifies things in our cramped fifth wheel! My oldest loves the idea of reading back through the Bible. He kept asking to read from it when we switched to the history. Can you believe when I purchased Beyond I had bought both the classic and the boy read-aloud packages? They both sounded so good! I had a hard time choosing. I had no idea when we would find the time to read them all. Well, now I know! We can read the classics this year and the boy choices next year with Beyond. Thanks for making our lives in a fifth wheel easier! Can’t wait to start!